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Article LXXXII: Central Principles of Vedanta

"Prajnanam Brahma. Ayam Atma Brahma. Tat Tvam Asi. Aham Brahmasmi."
"Consciousness is Brahman. This Self is Brahman. That thou art. I am Brahman."
Mahavakyas of the Upanishads

The word Vedanta means end of knowledge, or culmination of knowledge. Vedanta is considered to be the most developed philosophy of Hinduism. Vedanta is also known as Uttara Mimamsa, and it represents the final of the six classical systems of Hindu thought, or Shad Darshana. The other five systems preceding Vedanta are Vaisesika, Nyaya, Samkkya, Yoga, and Purva Mimamsa. Vedanta classically refers to the philosophy laid out in three primary sources: the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahmasutras. Vyasa (Badarayana) first attempted to systemize Vedanta in the Brahmasutras, or Vedanta Sutras. Sankaracharya, Madhwacharya, and Ramanujacharya are the foremost exponents of the three major schools of Vedanta - Advaita, Dvaita, and Visistadvaita, respectively. These three schools accept each others' paths, but arrange the paths to the goal and the different aspects of the goal in distinct hierarchies.

Mahavakyas, or great sayings, of the Upanishads represent verses that are repeated throughout various Upanishads, and these concepts are quintessential in Vedanta. Though Brahman is truly indescribable, Vedantins attempt to approach describing Brahman with the realization that no words will ever suffice. Brahman is described as satchitananda, or existence-consciousness-bliss. Brahman is Supreme - infinite beyond space, eternal beyond time, and immutable beyond causation. The realization of Brahman is moksha, or freedom -- enlightenment which releases one from the cycle of samsara, or reincarnation. It is of utmost importance that one remembers that Brahman is within. This sentiment is central in Hinduism and exists in Christianity as well, "the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21).

The mahavakyas emphasize the potentiality for the Divine within. A great person once said that "we are not human beings with a spiritual experience, but we are spiritual beings with a human experience." Hence, the Divine lies within. Knowledge lies within. Peace, perfection, and prosperity lie within. Atman lies within. Brahman lies within. Vedanta offers the paths to reach that goal - within.

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